How I Broke My First Heart

Photo by  burak kostak  from  Pexels

Photo by burak kostak from Pexels

We were thirteen. Love is a strong word at thirteen.

But for what we were capable of at the time, we were in love.

Our immature hearts fluttered.

It was 1984.


She hid the magic behind awkward glasses. Full and fascinating, her eyes alone changed my mind about how much I liked girls.

Those eyes showed you that she cared. Later that summer they would show me young love.

She didn’t know her beauty.

She didn’t know I would break her little heart into a million pieces.

Me (Way Before Her)

I was the first person in third grade to hold hands with a girl.

We needed a buddy when we walked to the park. I chose a girl that day. Kids laughed.

Her hands were soft. Her walk slower. She wasn’t in a hurry.

Girls were not icky anymore.

Me (Just Before Her)

I was approaching puberty at thirteen, but hadn’t hit my growth spurt yet. Next year I would grow six inches.

My voice was still that of a boy. I wanted to be a full teen, but I was still more of a tween.

I kissed a girl when I was eleven. When she put her tongue in my mouth I was apoplectic. I knew this was “frenching,” but it was still weird.

We broke up the next day.

Because I was scared.

Me (Then)

I don’t remember how we started going out that summer, but I know I didn’t expect much in the beginning. The last girl I “went out with” dragged me around the basketball court to make me her boyfriend.

That lasted two days. I hid from her in the computer lab.

Because I was scared.

But I didn’t feel scared with her. She was sweet. She was caring.

Her big eyes turned this thirteen-year-old into a puddle.

I liked her.

I didn’t know what love was.

Photo by  Clem Onojeghuo  on  Unsplash


We were open.

We were innocent.

We were connected.

We were lost in what was the beginning of young love.

We held hands like our lives depended on it.

But the summer wouldn’t last forever.

We would part.

In what we thought was love.

Maybe it was.

The Reunion

It was bar mitzvah year. I would be coming back from California for one. She would be there. We all would.

I arrived early as the twins having the b’nai mitzvah were my best friends. I was nervous.

Sweaty palms.

We wrote letters expressing how much we missed each other. We talked on the phone and were comforted.

This reunion would tell us if it had all been real.

And there she was.

Because I Was Scared

She was beautiful. Too pretty for me.

She traded in her glasses for contacts. Now her eyes were exposed to the world.

Her smile lit up the world that day. It was directed at me. And I froze.

I took everything we had and threw it away over a matter of a half day.

Because I was scared.

Scared to lose her. Scared I wasn’t worthy. Scared of love.

I ignored her. I chastised her for talking during the service. I was abominable.

I still hate myself for it. Still. Right now — 35 years later. I can still see it.

I can still see her crying.

The Letter

She wrote me a letter after I returned to California ashamed. Ashamed at who I hurt. Ashamed at how I hurt her. But I wouldn’t acknowledge that to her.

Because I was scared.

It was a painful letter. It was about a heart that I broke. Hers.

She would never know that I broke my own heart at the same time.

Because I was scared.

I kept that letter. I still have it.

I brought it to her eight years ago to let her know that I still had it.

Why Young Love Matters

We moved past it by the next summer. Because she was a better person than I.

We were friends again. And we remained that way.

We are still friends.

But the memory of that heartbreak persisted. For both of us. For how long it’s hard to say.

Because it lives in our respective childhood memories.

But it matters. Young love matters.

Because it reminds us of a time when life was less complicated. Of the first time those butterflies meant something. Of the time when love was a discovery.

But love can be unkind. I was unkind.

I broke a heart.

Because I was scared.